I enjoyed this latest volume in the antics of Marnie Baranuik, one unusual paranormal investigator. I did miss having more interactions between Marnie...moreI enjoyed this latest volume in the antics of Marnie Baranuik, one unusual paranormal investigator. I did miss having more interactions between Marnie and Harry and Marnie and Batten, but I really liked Schenk. He's a good foil for Marnie, and they formed a genuine bond of friendship. Fans of this series should enjoy it!
I liked this a lot. I'm glad, since I wasn't that fond of the first JLA adventure I read. This book captures the darker side of being a superhero, and...moreI liked this a lot. I'm glad, since I wasn't that fond of the first JLA adventure I read. This book captures the darker side of being a superhero, and asks, "What happens afterward?" A writer whose family was caught in a crisis that the JLA successfully resolves, comes down with a mysterious affliction that causes their premature deaths. David Graves is grief-stricken and enraged by the experience, seeking revenge. He comes across a mystical force that allow him to harness the angry ghosts around him to destroy the league.
The artwork was very good, conveying the dark storyline and the action. I liked the way all the Leaguers were drawn. Of course, I am a huge Green Arrow fan, so it was great to see him show up (although he is Connor, Oliver's son).
Overall, I don't have any complaints with this graphic novel. I think that this is accessible to people who are crossing over from the DC Comics movies and TV shows to the comic books.(less)
This was a really cool story idea and a fun read. I'm a huge fan of classic horror, particularly really creepy ghost stories. While this is a...moreOverview
This was a really cool story idea and a fun read. I'm a huge fan of classic horror, particularly really creepy ghost stories. While this is a modern published book, it has a favorably classic vibe. The ghosts in this book are portrayed in the most harmful of ways. They aren't just shades who have forgotten they are dead and harmlessly roam the world of the living. Instead, they have great potential for injuring and even killing humans. As a result of the "Problem", a huge rash of ghost hauntings that no one can explain, a group of organizations have been created to confront this issue. Because children have heightened senses and abilities to perceive the ghosts, they are used to do most of this dangerous work, under the supervision of adults.
Antony Lockwood has decided to cut out the middleman. He started an agency of his own, with no adult supervision. His one partner is George, but he interviews and takes on Lucy as an assistant. Lucy has a troubled past work experience in the north, where most of her crew were killed in a haunting that turned out to be worse than it seems. She decided to take off on her own and ends up in London to find a place with the big ghost-hunting agencies. She has gone from agency to agency, rejected as an employee, but finds a home with Lockwood and Co.
Each child has distinctive abilities. Lucy is able to hear the dead, and she also can touch things and feel the emotions of the person who owned the object. Lockwood can see death glows (where people were violently killed) and has very keen eyesight for spectral information. George is a superb researcher. Together, they make quite a team. However, the government agency who oversees hauntings has it in for them, because they don't like the idea of children going off on their own dealing with ghosts.
Lucy forms a strange connection to the spirit of a murdered girl (a fifty-year-old unsolved murder case) in a local house. They barely escape her vengeful ghost alive, but the house is burned as a result. The resulting fine and bill from the owners could put them out of business. When a wealthy industrialist hires them to investigate his very dangerous haunted mansion, they can't say no. Even if the whole situation seems mighty fishy.
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by British actress Miranda Raison (she was on MI-5), and her voice was excellent. She has good pitch, and is talented at modifying her voice for both male and female voices. Also, able to convey anger, menace, age, pomposity, and humor by varying her voice. Each character sounds different. I would recommend listening to this, because it feels even more eerie in the audio form.
The writing is very good. I am a big fan of juvenile/middle grade stories because they are imaginative and are designed to keep a readers interest (young readers tend to have a shorter attention span). I especially like the ones that demand the attention of the reader, and stimulate their curiosity and intellect. Such is the case with this book. Stroud had taken the tried and true subject of ghosts, and given it a unique spin. I love the fact that he has created plenty of fictional references from the leading ghost hunters of the original time of the inception of Ghost Hunting. The kids consult these books and apply the crucial knowledge gained to do their work and keep themselves alive. Not only does Stroud add layers to the concept of hauntings, he gives it his own spin, with the idea of things like 'ghost-touched' and "death-glow". I also like how he elaborates on the various accoutrements of ghost-hunting and protection against ghosts.
The tension is very well done. The encounters with ghosts build in such a way to keep the reader on the edge of her seat. Each encounter is progressively more scary, and the trio's experiences in the haunted manor is not something you'd want to read before bedtime. It's kind of freaky and disturbing to think that children are put in these dangerous situations, while adults sit by on the sidelines and stay safe! But the kids are best equipped to see the ghosts, so they can act quicker and more decisively in hauntings.
I definitely recommend "The Screaming Staircase" to fans of ghosts literature of all ages. I think this book is intelligent enough to satisfy both an older and younger reader, and as I said earlier, it has a nice old school ghost story vibe that would make the Patriarch of the genre, MR James proud.
Overall, it didn't catch my interest. I found my attention wandering and boredom setting in as I read it. I think it was probably a situation where the writing style didn't work for me. Wharton seems to have a sort of elaborate, flowery style, and I usually don't care for that kind of writing. I didn't feel the tension build that much, even after the pivotal events occur. I was looking for that moment, I'll call it the 'crunch moment', although that is probably not the best word, and when it occurs, I didn't feel anything. I am a reader who likes to be involved in the story, and I felt detached from this story. I really didn't care about the characters. It's hard to feel horror or fear when you don't care and aren't drawn into the story.
While the idea was good, the execution didn't work for me. I'm disappointed because I was definitely looking for a good vintage ghost story to get my October Scare Fest started, and this wasn't the one.
Edith Wharton is obviously touted as a well-respected author, and I won't even try to dispute that. I do have to say she had quite a vocabulary, which is always enviable. Unfortunately, I'd have to say that this ghost story didn't work for me. I read it late, late at night in bed on my Kindle with the lights off, and I didn't feel a single chill. Not good for a ghost story. I'll try her again though.
Dead Things is serious magic noir. The name of this book tells it all. This book is about a man surrounded by dead and the consequences it has on his...moreDead Things is serious magic noir. The name of this book tells it all. This book is about a man surrounded by dead and the consequences it has on his life and his relationships with the living. The narrative is very cynical, with a main character who has a foul mouth and a dark point of view. Of course, anyone who has his necromantic abilities might tend to lose his faith in humanity and everything else. Despite that fact, I did like this book for the most part. Blackmoore lost me some near the end though. It was too abrupt and I didn't completely like the choice he made with the story. The end does make sense to some extent, and if this is a series, it will be interesting to see how Eric gets himself out of the mess he is currently in as of the end of this book.
I don't like to compare, but for male-lead UF readers, you could think of Eric as the darker counterpart to characters like Dresden and O'Sullivan, probably more like Connor Gray than the former. His gifts are part of him, and they taint his life in many ways. But in the case of Eric, his choices continue to alienate him from those who live and want connection with him. He fears tainting them or destroying them, but by walking away, he endangers them even more. Kind of a vicious cycle and a bound to bring on the existential crisis or dark night of the soul.
The imagery is what got me with this story. The world-building is suitably and necessarily dark for a story about a necromancer. His vantage point of life on the highways and backroads of America, seeing all the ghosts who either wander or who are anchored to their place of dying. In some ways a warrior for the light, but one who exists in the twilight and shadows. Eric sees and deals with many so-called deities and has little respect for them. Unfortunately, he makes a deal with one and will have to pay the piper very dearly.
I hadn't ever heard of Santa Muerte, the Patron Saint of the Narcos (Drug Traffickers) on the Mexican Border. A death goddess who started out in the Aztec pantheon, but found her way into the Narco-influenced border culture where she has plenty of followers. Blackmoore brings this mythology to vivid but disturbing life. A distinctive turn in urban fantasy that fits this very noir read.
I can't say Dead Things is for everyone. This is one is quite violent and kind of depressing in some ways. Lots of swear words and a great deal of irreverence on display, along with moments that border on being nauseating for the squeamish. Eric's choices aren't always admirable, but I did feel for him. He remains a sympathetic character despite his flaws. People around him tend to get hurt, and that's hard for me to read, especially since I can't 100% place that blame on his shoulders. I felt his loneliness and isolation, his front of apathy that doesn't quite hide a fear of being the screw-up that no can love, respect or stand up for. I wish his actions didn't turn this into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I want to continue this series to see what happens next to Eric, and to hope that he turns things around and stops walking away from life and deeper into the world of the dead, while there is still some part of him that has a connection to the living.
Can I be honest? I feel... a bit manipulated. I am going through a horrible reading slump right now, so I know that I am a lot less tolerant than I wo...moreCan I be honest? I feel... a bit manipulated. I am going through a horrible reading slump right now, so I know that I am a lot less tolerant than I would have been prior to this dry spell. So my review of this book might be a bit harsher. I feel that despite my rather harsh criticism, I am being fair and respectful, which are crucial to me as a reviewer.
I loved the first book, The Name of the Star, and I gave it five stars. I actually thought it was quite brilliant. In comparison, my feelings are not complimentary for this second book.
I am on the edge of giving up YA books because of reasons that this book sort of ties into. So forgive the segueway. I'll get back to my review in a little bit:
1) I am so sick of love triangles (this one doesn't quite have an in your face one. It's more of an obtuse triangle if anything).
2) Oh the high school drama! I am just sick of the whole high school setting, to be honest. This book isn't so bad in that sense.
3)So, so, so heartily sick of cliffhangers. Now this is where I felt manipulated. That ending was just wrong with this book. Not well done, and contrived. I think it ended this way so she could have a springboard for the next book. I'm not Maureen Johnson and so I don't get to tell her to write her books. But that was just pain unnecessary. If I could issue a plea to YA authors, stop the madness with this terrible, meaningless cliffhangers. You can write a series without them. If the publishers are behind this conspiracy, tell them no!
Okay, back to the book.
So I mentioned above how I was not feeling the ending. I was actually quite mad when I finished this book. I am doing a Bible Study and we talked about anger today, so I was glad I got that lesson prior to finishing this book. I was able to process my anger and determine the reasons for it. I felt manipulated and abused. I felt frustrated. I think that processing the anger has made me better able to review this book, but my reasons for feeling anger still stand.
The storyline itself was okay. However, it lacked the pizazz and the strength of the last book. It was meandering and rather dull in comparison. The word ennui is perfect for this feeling I had when I read this book. Although I can understand Rory being in a fog after the trauma she suffered, the feeling of malaise seemed to affect the whole narrative, and I didn't feel a sense of purpose or momentum as I read this novel. That was highly disappointing and contrasts very negatively with the first book, which has such a powerful, chilling atmosphere of menace that I found wonderfully effective . I had a feeling that this new character and her connection with Rory was going to lead to disaster, and I was right about that. But I'm not sure I really care, you know?
What I liked just as much as the first book was the atmosphere, the presence of London as a character in this novel. It makes me want to jump on a plane and go to England right now. In fact, London was more distinctive than the actual main character, which is a shame, because I love Rory. In this book, Johnson seems to be going through the motions in her characterization of Rory. She is blunted and hard to connect to her as a main character in this novel. My absolute Achilles' heel as a reader is that I can be so drawn into a story that I feel utter empathy for a character, if the writer is able to bring this character to life for me. With Rory, that connection established in The Name of the Star felt so attenuated, it hurt this read for me. Also, with such vibrant characters as Boo and Callum, they felt almost like the Shades of London they concern themselves with. Other important secondary characters, the same. And Stephen, well, he's one of my favorite characters, and even he didn't feel as real to me in this book, although I still love him.
Maureen Johnson established herself as a very admirable suspense writer with the first book in this series and "The Law of Suspects", a short story I had the pleasure of reading as my introduction to her. I feel she was off her game with this book. That ability to catch a reader and lead them down a dark, twisted path wasn't as evident in this book. My biggest reaction is that she was going through the motions. As a result, this reader is dismayed and disappointed.
Will I read the next book? With that ending, I have to do so. But my expectations are very low at this point.
Please up your game with the next book, Ms. Johnson. I need to know that you can finish what you started in this series successfully.
War Lord manages to be shockingly dark and laugh out loud funny in various parts. John Constantine is an amusing and fascinating fellow in this book....moreWar Lord manages to be shockingly dark and laugh out loud funny in various parts. John Constantine is an amusing and fascinating fellow in this book. He gives out this vibe of the bumbling ineffectual, who could give a flip about anything. However his ability with magics and the arcane is inestimable. A drunk, chain-smoker, and a bit of a lecher. His sense of morality doesn't seem to fit into the boxes that you might usually ascribe characters. However, he does have a sense of honor, just believes in doing things his own way. All in all, hard to pin down and not one to be taken for granted.
The storyline itself is very harsh. It's about war, and the fact that many use war to profit. That's no secret, but seeing it written down on paper emphasizes the wrongness of glorifying in human suffering, causing it for one's own ends. In this case, a dark cabal is stirring up violence to awake an ancient War Lord to bring about the apocalypse, so they can rule. However, that's not going to go over well, not with Constantine on the opposite side (even if he dislikes the fact that he has to choose sides).
I found myself laughing at some of the admittedly coarse humor. But it was very funny. I loved the side joke in which Constantine remarks about the parallel worlds that exist, one in which he has black hair and wears a black coat, and lives in Los Angeles. That might sound familiar to some folks.
Some parts are off-putting, even repulsive. The dark magics are rather disturbing (in the fact that some folks might choose to go down those roads). However, those who like reading fiction about the arcane and esoteric might appreciate this book. There's even a cameo by a descendant of Aleister Crowley. Some stuff went over my head as far as the Hidden World, but I'm okay with that.
I can't give it a high rating because it has a very slow start and the pace was too uneven in parts. Not to mention the fact that the atrocities committed to see the dark purposes of the cabal to fruition didn't sit right with me (even though they make sense for this book). However, it was a good read and I enjoyed it. So it's easily 3.5/5.0 stars.(less)
I wish I'd had time to read this during the past Christmas season, because it would be perfect to get a reader into the mood, and to reinforce the dee...moreI wish I'd had time to read this during the past Christmas season, because it would be perfect to get a reader into the mood, and to reinforce the deep meanings of this beloved holiday.
Mr. Kirch is on point with the meaning of A Christmas Carol in this novella, and he lovingly does homage to it, while he takes the story forward in time to a family that very much needs to be reminded about the importance of family and love.
For a while, I was quite worried. I cried bitter tears, but I kept hope alive in my heart that Marley would do his magic to help little Kathy, a young girl with two bickering parents who often forget she's around. Kathy, Marley, and Tobias make this story, while parents Dan and Beverly make for some frustrating moments. But one of the most important truths of Christmas holds true here, that love is a miracle. A light that can enter into the darkest abyss, and its miraculous ability to change a human heart will ultimately triumph over the most hopeless of situations.
I enjoyed this story very much, and I recommend it to readers who love A Christmas Carol, and readers who like modern gothics and horror that bring to mind the classics in these genres.
Thanks to Donald Allen Kirch for the opportunity to read Marley-The Other Christmas Carol.
I liked this story. It was multifaceted in that it was not just a haunted house story, but also a murder mystery. Collins builds the suspense and the...moreI liked this story. It was multifaceted in that it was not just a haunted house story, but also a murder mystery. Collins builds the suspense and the feeling of curiosity that keeps the reader engaged. I found the writing to be far from dated. The language was not antiquated, but felt almost modern in some ways. The print for my copy is rather small, and that's the only reason I didn't read it faster. Yesterday, I kept saying, I'll read to this point, and to that point, before I knew it, it was quite late and I had to put the book down to go to bed.
I didn't find the prose melodramatic. Instead, I found that Collins is matter of fact in describing horrors. It's merely in the reading of such things that the horror is evoked. I was quite surprised at the horrible things that had occurred, and it wasn't due to that Campy Gothic or Victorian Penny Dreadful tendency to use outlandish language to evoke a dark, sinister tone. I liked his subtle but hilarious humor, particularly in the part in which Francis Westwick goes to the room in question. I was laughing out loud on that part.
The Haunted Hotel starts out in an curious manner, with a false narrator. Which is quite brilliant. This beginning narrator never makes another appearance, and I was left to wonder how this plot thread would end up in the titular place. Further reading shows Collins' tendency to continuously introduce new point of views, leaving it up to the reader to see how it ties together. As I consider this novella, I wonder if this was not his way of revealing the intriguing character of the Countess through different eyes. So one cannot easily make up their mind about her. (view spoiler)[ I have to admit that I felt sympathetic to her up to almost the end of the story. While what she does is completely heinous and terrible, I felt that her allegiance to her awful brother was no small factor in her moral failing. In the end, she seemed to merely live down to everyone's expectations of her, instead of reaching higher. Instead of staying true to what I felt was an inner cord of strength, she followed that fatal path to destruction. So I admit that in the end, I still pitied her despite her actions. I was in no small way surprised that she actually was guilty. I thought perhaps she was just a victim of a bad reputation. My feelings towards the Countess make me admire this story more for the clever way in which it was written. (hide spoiler)]
Now an impatient reader will wish for Collins to get to the point, but I rather enjoyed the journey. I found the characters interesting, all of which evoking sympathy to some extent (except the Baron, who I found totally repugnant). Collins has a way of writing characters that is quite appealing to me. Even the lesser important characters come to life and earn their screen time when they come into the scenes. I enjoyed the roundabout way of presenting a story that was actually quite chilling in parts. I appreciated how intricately the mystery builds to a satisfying climax for this reader.
In the end, I was impressed with this novella by Mr. Collins. I will read more of his work because I think he has a way of writing mystery and suspense that is timeless, drawing me into his writing and not easily letting me go. His characters have impact and come to life for this reader, not sacrificed to a greater goal of evoking horror or terror, as can sometimes happen in this genre. I for one recommend this story to fans of classic/gothic horror and suspense.
Royal Street is a very refreshing and enjoyable urban fantasy read. I was captivated by the sights and scenery of New Orleans, and the honest and enli...moreRoyal Street is a very refreshing and enjoyable urban fantasy read. I was captivated by the sights and scenery of New Orleans, and the honest and enlightening perspective of the city during and after the Hurricane Katrina devastation. We did get refugees (both human and animal) from New Orleans around that time in the Austin, and also the poisoned air drifted our way, causing a lot of allergy and respiratory issues. Seeing the aftermath from a more distant perspective was painful enough. I can't imagine having experienced it firsthand. Ms. Johnson allowed me to do this in reading this book. New Orleans has such a personality, that it continually establishes itself as a important character in her own right in books. This reader is not jaded at meeting this beautiful ancient dame yet again.
Drusilla Jaco doesn't cede all the attention to New Orleans. She establishes herself as a likable character whose story you want to learn. She's neither too strong, nor too weak. Her strengths and weaknesses balance themselves out, making her a character I want to accompany on an adventure. Drusilla is a wizard, which is fun. Usually the tendency is to make a female UF protagonist a witch, which I feel can be a bit sexist. It could also be that I am not a big fan of witch storylines and witchcraft. I can and do like the idea of wizards a little more, and why can't a woman be a wizard? In this case, she is not just a wizard, but one with a special heritage which comes into play. That was fun to see Drusilla, or DJ, as she is called, come into herself and her genetic inheritance.
As far as other characters, I definitely liked Alex and Jake. Boy howdy, I do not care for love triangles, but this one feels credible. Both guys have a lot to offer, and you do feel torn. I have made up my mind who I want Drusilla to end up with, but we'll see what the series has to say about that. Either way, so long as it doesn't turn into bed-switching (which has become almost an UF staple lately), I'm okay with going along for the ride. Now that Jean Lafitte, he's a character. I find him sexy, but it's in a "I'm so wrong to think he's sexy" kind of way. I mean, he's ruthless and amoral, and he is physically abusive. I'm not feeling that at all. At the same time, he is a cutthroat pirate, so I can't really ascribe 21st century values to him, can I? Yeah, I'm feeling conflicted. At any rate, he's an interesting character. I can't really tell you about one of my favorite characters, who is in fact an inanimate object that DJ calls Charlie. Let me just say that Lord of the Rings fans will find it very cool indeed!
As far as the urban fantasy action, this book is pretty good on that score although it could have used more showing and more description. I did feel that the final confrontation wasn't as exciting and as well-executed as I would have liked. Admittedly, I am a stickler for well-written action scenes, so I tend to grade harder in that area. I did like that Drusilla does get to save the day. It was important for her to be able to do so, even though she did get a bit of help along the way.
Royal Street is a great start to a series that has me excited to read more. I liked the concept and the characters are appealing and have me interested in reading more, including the Grande Dame of New Orleans.
Urban fantasy readers looking for a book that would appeal to both male and female readers should find something to like in this book. I know I did!(less)
Interesting storyline, although a bit draggy. Jackie has one of the worst mouths I've ever encountered on a heroine thus far. Oh, and there is some ve...moreInteresting storyline, although a bit draggy. Jackie has one of the worst mouths I've ever encountered on a heroine thus far. Oh, and there is some very brutal violence in this book.
How does he do it? How does Mr. James write such fantastic tales of terror? This story starts so benignly, I had this false sense of security. I was f...moreHow does he do it? How does Mr. James write such fantastic tales of terror? This story starts so benignly, I had this false sense of security. I was fooled but good. The conversational tone, and the dry, academic characters had me wondering where this story was going. Soon, I came to realize exactly what was going on. Our narrator collects pictures of homes. He gets a lead on a mezzotint (a metal engraving with a great deal of distinction between shades of light and dark) that he considers rather substandard for the two guineas the dealer is asking for. Only this is a special picture. It changes, you see. As the narrator becomes aware that this photo has some unlikely qualities, the unease builds. The narrator asks others to look at the picture, and they see something changing as well. What is one to think of this mezzotint?
It’s amazing that this story can be so eerie and disarming, even without knowing exactly what the nature of the mezzotint’s ability is. Is this a ghost story? Dark fantasy? What’s the nature of the figure in the picture? Mr. James doesn’t reveal that. It doesn’t matter. The story has served its purpose. The mood, setting, and plot deliver one heck of a read. (less)
I think I sabotaged myself with this book. I got so excited about it. I read too many good reviews. When I finally read it, it couldn't live up to tha...moreI think I sabotaged myself with this book. I got so excited about it. I read too many good reviews. When I finally read it, it couldn't live up to that high expectations.
Fundamentally, Anna Dressed in Blood was a good book. There was really some art in the writing. Full of visually evocative scenes and descriptions, this book appealed to me esthetically and it also made me feel stirrings of unease, pity, and horror. What I didn't feel was a kinship with Cas. Cas is a good guy, a good hero as well. I just didn't connect with him. I have a thing for books with a male point of view. I enjoy reading them and getting inside the head of a male protagonist. With stellar examples of monster hunters like Dean and Sam Winchester from the TV show Supernatural and Cal and Nik Leandros from the book series by Rob Thurman, Cal had some hard acts to follow. I didn't ever get beneath the surface of his sarcastic, wounded by his father's untimely death exterior. I felt like an observer. When I read books, I want to be a part of the story, and feel the emotions of the characters. That can be a dicey thing with this kind of literature, but that's one of the appeals of horror and dark fantasy. If I don't get that engagement, I feel sort of lost.
On the other side, I did feel some emotions for Anna. When we first met, I was really shocked and quite horrified. But that didn't last long (well not as much). As I came to know her, I felt pity and curiosity for her, and a strange sort of sympathy and liking. Now the author did succeed at this. I didn't understand how she could make a love story out of this idea, and she created a very young, fragile seed of one between Cas and Anna. One that I am encouraged to watch grow or at least hope for the best. Other than Cas and Anna, the characterization was sketchy. I did like that Carmel was the 'it girl' with a heart. And I liked Thomas. He's a sweetie who reminded me of my TV husband Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds for some reason.
As far as the suspense storyline, it fell somewhat short. I don't care much for modern horror, with its dependence of shock, gore, and grisly, visceral violence. I like the gothic style, where atmosphere is pivotal. What we don't see feeds our imaginations and escalates the tension we feel to a razor sharp edge. There was some of that beloved gothic appeal, but it was ruined by the injection of teen slasher style horror moments and high school "mean girl/it clique" dross. That's a big turnoff for me. While I don't feel that Blake trivializes the horrible death of teens in this book, I think that going there sort of tarnished this story for me. Also, the climax was too abrupt and I didn't quite get a strong feel or read a strong enough connection between the Anna situation and the one that had steered Cas into his career. I felt like there were embryonic tendrils there that could have bloomed beautifully with more intensive narrative. But not enough in their present form. It felt like voodoo/malevolent entity lite to me. I honestly feel that this book falls into that category of books written for the new generation of tv and movie watchers (and no offense when I say that). The stories have the basic presentation of ideas that reads like a movie, but not in the visual sense. More in the sketchbook/screenplay-basic narrative. Mainly images and snarky comments, but where's the beef fundamentally? While this is not a bad thing in itself, it's not my preferred sort of writing when it comes to novels.
I can see why this book has so much appeal. There are parts that I give an A+ too (namely the imagery and back story of Anna), but they are more sparse than I would like in a book. The overall product is vaguely unsatisfying overall. I give it four stars because of the things I liked about it. I'll keep reading this series because I do like Anna and her relationship with Cas, and Thomas, the teen who befriends Cas, sparkes with his geeky sweetness. I'd like to see what mess they get into next. And I'd like to see if Blake can develop this good idea into something more meaty in the end.
Recommend with some serious reservations.
As much as it pains me, this book turned out to be a very low rated four stars.(less)
I confess I have already read book three, Third Grave Dead Ahead. It's a great thing that I liked that one enough to go back and start the series from...moreI confess I have already read book three, Third Grave Dead Ahead. It's a great thing that I liked that one enough to go back and start the series from the beginning. I am glad I did.
This was a fun book on audio. The narrator clearly had fun with her job too. She dives in headfirst into the puns and verbal wordplay, imbuing Charley's voice with all the sassiness and spunk that is so much a part of her personality. At times, her cadence was a bit strange, but overall, I thought she was a good narrator. She narrates characters of various ages, sexes and ethnicity very well.
First Grave on the Right has an interesting concept, although a main character seeing ghosts isn't novel for urban fantasy. In this case, Charley is a portal in herself, a conduit for the spirits of those who have passed on to go through in order to leave this plane and to go to their final destination. She has had this ability since she was born. Charley is a Grim Reaper. No, she doesn't carry a scythe and doesn't wear a cape. Instead, she looks like a bright light to spirits, irresistibly bright. At twenty-six years of age, she has come to terms with her identity. It wasn't easy, and still isn't. But she has developed coping mechanisms, and she has embraced her ability to help spirits move on. Just this idea is great fodder for a series. On top of that, Charley is a private eye who helps her police detective uncle solve crimes. Yes, some of the cops thinks she's weird, but she has her snark to fend them off. But how about The Big Bad? The mysterious, caped entity who has watched over her since she was a baby just born. What role does he play and how is he related to a young man she knew a long time ago who called her "Dutch?" That's a mystery you have to read the book to find out about.
I can't speak too much about Reyes, because there are too many spoilers involving him. But what I will say is that he has won me over. Reyes is smoking hot, no pun intended! He's a good foil for Charley. I also like Garrett Swopes, who has a frenemies type relationship with Charley. It's clear to me that he has a crush on her. Charley's friend and secretary, Cookie, is a lot of fun too. One thing I couldn't get past was Charley's evil stepmonster. No excuse for how she treats Charley and treated her as a very young girl with a strange ability that she couldn't help possessing. I wonder why her dad lets her get away with that.
First Grave on the Right is one of those books that will have you laughing a lot. Jones is not above a bad pun or too, but they are too endearing to be annoying. And the humor is needed, because it can be quite sad to see these specters whose lives ended in various ways, many not from natural causes. The reader cannot help but feel for Charley, since she has no buffer against the dead. It would be enough to drive a person crazy, but not Charley. It's who she is and she doesn't know any different.
On top of the humor, there are some good mystery components, and the supernatural elements are well done. Darynda Jones lays a foundation for a very good urban fantasy/paranormal mystery with this book that teases me into coming back for more.